MISSING Melissa Everest who went on a mission to Tunisia to divorce her estranged husband told her family: “If I’m not back by Thursday, call the police.”

The mother of two failed to board her homebound flight – despite telling her eldest son Ethan “see you tomorrow” the day before.

Her family now fear she is being held against her will or has been injured, having not heard from her for more than a week.

The 40-year-old, from Lancing, flew from Gatwick to Tunisia to divorce Adem Brins Harrabi, 23, on July 6 and was due home on July 14.

The pair met while Melissa was on holiday with her two sons in Tunisia in 2014.

Melissa’s sister Heidi Everest-Gourlay, 36, of Worthing, said: “This is so unlike her.

“I think she has been manipulated, or coerced, or held against her will.

“If she had decided she wanted to stay, she is the kind of person who would have just said ‘I don’t care what you think, I’m staying’.

“Her boys are all she has and she is all they have. She would never have just left them without telling them she is OK.”

During her time in Tunisia, Melissa phoned her mother Maria who was looking after her sons Ethan, 16, and Nico, 12, every day She attended court and the case was adjourned to a later date.

But her mobile phone has gone dead and the family have been unable to get hold of her.

Sussex Police said that following inquiries via the National Crime Agency and the Foreign Office, Tunisian Police had located Melissa and “she confirmed to them that she was in Tunisia of her own free will”.

But her family say they will not accept she is safe until they have heard from her directly.

They said they had received conflicting accounts from the Tunisian Police – where they say Melissa’s father in-law is chief of the police force – first saying they had seen her face to face, then later saying they had spoken to her on the phone.

Melissa’s mother Maria Everest, 63, said the ordeal was “breaking her heart”.

She said: “Until we see her face we wont know she’s safe.”

When contacted by Ethan, Mr Brins Harrabi was told his “mother was sleeping” and unable to talk to him – even though he stressed it was urgent.

The family are desperately appealing for anyone who knows of Melissa’s whereabouts to get in touch.


MELISSA Everest was looking to start a new life with her boys when she met a charming young Tunisian.

The 40-year-old mother of two had just been through a divorce and moved to Lancing to be closer to her family.

She took her two boys on a family holiday to Tunisia in the summer of 2014 and met what she thought was her perfect man.

“She came home and said: ‘I’ve met someone.’ She told us all about him,” her sister Heidi told The Argus. But she had misgivings about Melissa’s whirlwind romance with 23-year-old Adem Brins Harrabi.

Heidi said: “He was always telling her she was special, she was beautiful.

“It was following the breakdown of her marriage. It’s hard being a single mother. She didn’t have a lot of confidence. I’m sure he said just the right things.

“Then she started sending money over to him. Then his family started contacting her asking her to send money and make up and things.

“They got married in August. The boys went out with her for the wedding.

“She seemed happy. She had been through a lot.

“We are all very open and honest, we always tell each other how we feel. But I said if she was happy then I was happy for her.”

Melissa and Adem married in August 2015.

Her sons Ethan and Nico flew to Tunisia for her wedding, but her mother and sisters “weren’t sure about him” and did not go.

Nico warmed to his new stepfather but Ethan said he was never quite as sure.

“I wanted her to be happy but wasn’t sure,” said Ethan.

A few months later Melissa returned just with Nico to help Adem get a visa to come to the UK.

Heidi said that the couple’s relationship began to crumble and Melissa came home determined not to stay with her husband.

Eventually she decided she needed to return to Tunisia to formalise divorce proceedings under Tunisian law.

Heidi said: “She is such a good person with such a good heart she would do anything for anybody and was always giving him the benefit of the doubt.

“I’m sure she loved him and to start with at least he made her feel special.

“She had to go there in person to get a divorce.

“She said she was scared to see him in court but she sent me a picture of herself smiling before the court hearing.

“But beforehand she told four or five friends: ‘Call the police if I don’t come back on Thursday.’ “She called my mum and the boys every day while she was out there and was so excited to be coming home.

“She had booked a taxi to pick her up from the airport and made plans to go out with a friend that evening.

“When she didn’t arrive we called and called her phone but it just goes to answer machine.”

Adem sent a message to Maria telling them “Melissa is with me,” “she is safe” and “I know I can get her to change her mind”.

Ethan sent messages to his stepfather but was told she was asleep and the family have been unable to get any further information from him about where she is. In the week since they last heard from Melissa her family have become frantic. They have been desperately searching for any news of her whereabouts.

Her sons are becoming increasingly anxious, concerned that their mother has not contacted them and their aunts and grandmother cannot hide the grim situation.

Maria said: “They are searching the internet.

“There is no way of keeping anything from them.”

Keeping tabs on social media and anxiously waiting for calls 24 hours a day, Melissa’s family have been unable to sleep.

They are taking shifts looking after the boys, but they are struggling to cope. Nico, who suffers from autism, has been finding it too difficult to go to school and has gone to stay with another aunt in Crawley.

Maria has been calling the Foreign Office on an almost hourly basis demanding action.

“We never go this long without talking,” she said.

“My heart is breaking.

“We just want to see her face and know she is safe.

Sussex Police have told me not to call them any more.

“My main concern is my grandchildren – it is breaking my heart.”

Heidi added: “My mind is just racing through all the possibilities of what could have happened to her.

“We know Adem’s dad is chief of police. We don’t know what to believe.

“At first the authorities said they spoke to her face to face. Then later they said they spoke to her on the phone.

“We feel like the British authorities are leaving us on our own. They should be making sure she is safe.

“It has been a week and we have had no support.

“We are just so tired and exhausted. The boys aren’t really coping.”

The family said they resorted to contacting the media in the hope that Melissa can be found safe and well, but they are clearly worried that the publicity could make her situation worse.

“We just didn’t know what else to do,” said Heidi.